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Themselves they studied, as they felt they writ;
Intrigue was Plot, Obscenity was Wit.
Vice always found a sympathetic Friend,
They pleas'd their Age, and did not aim to mend.
Yet Bards like these aspir'd to lasting Praise,
And proudly hop'd to pimp in future Days.
Their Cause was gen'ral, their Supports were strong,
Their Slaves were willing, and their Reign was

long;
Till Shame regain'd the Post that Sense betray'd,
And Virtue call’d Oblivion to her Aid.

Then crush'd by Rules, and weaken'd as refin’d, For Years the Power of Tragedy declin'd: From Bard to Bard the frigid Caution crepe Till Declamation foar’d, while Passion fept. Yet still did Virtue deign the Stage to tread, Philofophy remain'd, though Nature fled. But forc'd at length her ancient Reign to quit, She saw great Fauftus lay the Ghost of Wit; Exulting Folly haild the joyful Day, And Pantomime and Song confirm'd her Sway.

But who the coming Changes can prefage, And mark the future Periods of the Stage? Perhaps if Skill could distant Times explore, New Bhens, new Durfeys, yet remain in Store. Perhaps, where Lear has rav’d, and Hamlet dy'd, On flying Cars new Sorcerers may ride, Perhaps (for who can guess the Effects of Chance?) Here Hunt may box, or Mahomet may dance.

Hard is his Lot, that here by Fortune plac'd, Must watch the wild Vicissitudes of Taste, With every Meteor of Caprice must play, And chace the new-blown Bubbles of the Day. Ah! let not Censure term our Fate, our Choice: The Stage but echoes back the public Voice, The Drama's Laws, the Drama's Patrons give, For we that live to please, muft please to live.

Then 3

Then prompt no more the Follies you decry,
As Tyrants doom their Tools of Guilt to die:
Tis

yours this Night to bid the Reign commence
Of rescu'd Nature, and reviving Sense;
To chace the Charms of Sound, the Pomp of Show,
For useful Mirth and salutary Woe,
Bid Scenic Virtue form the rising Age,
And Truth diffuse her Radiance from the Stage.

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Y

E glittring Train! whom Lace and Velvet

bless, Suspend the soft Sollicitudes of Dress ; From grov'ling Business and superfluous Care, Ye Sons of Avarice! a Moment fpare : Vot'ries of Fame and Worshippers of Pow'r! Dismiss the pleasing Phantoms for an Hour. Our daring Bard, with Spirit unconfin'd, Spreads wide the mighty Moral for Mankind. Learn here how Heav'n supports the virtuous Mind, Daring, tho' calm ; and vigorous, tho' resign’d. Learn here what Anguish racks the guilty Breast, In Pow'r dependent, in Success deprest. Learn here that Peace from Innocence must flow; All else is empty Sound, and idle Show.

If Truths like these with pleasing Language join; Ennobled, yet unchang’d, if Nature shine : If no wild Draught depart from Reason’s Rules, Nor Gods his Heroes, nor his Lovers Fools: Intriguing Wits! his artless Plot forgive ; And spare him, Beauties! tho' his Lovers live.

Be this at least his Praise ; be this his Pride; To force Applause no modern Arts, are try'd. Shou'd partial Cat-calls all his Hopes confound; He bids no Trumpet quell the fatal Sound. Shou'd welcome Sleep relieve the weary Wit, He rolls no Thunders o'er the drowsy Pit,

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No Snares to captivate the Judgment spreads;
Nor bribes your Eyes to prejudice your Heads.
Unmov'd tho' Witlings sneer and Rivals rail :
Scudious to please, yet not alham'd to fail.
He scorns the meek Address, the suppliant Strain,
With Merit needless, and without it vain.
In Reason, Nature, Truth he dares to trust;
Ye Fops be filent! and ye Wits be just!

PRO

PROLOGUE

SPOKEN BY Mr. G G A R P I CK,

ICK Thursday, April 5, 1750,

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For the Benefit of Mrs. ELIZABETH FOSTER, MILTON's Grand-daughter, and only surviving

Descendant.

Y

E patriot Crouds, who burn for England's Fame,
Ye Nymphs, whose Bosom's beat at Milton's

Name,
Whose gen'rous Zeal, unbought by flatt'ring Rhimes,
Shames the mean Pensions of Augustan Times;
Immortal Patrons of succeeding Days,
Attend this Prelude of perpetual Praise !
Let Wit, condemn’d the feeble War to wage
With close Malevolence, or public Rage ;
Let Study, worn with Virtue's fruitless Lore,
Behold this Theatre, and grieve no more.
This Night, distinguish'd by your Smile, shall tell
That never Briton can in vain excel ;
The slighted Arts Futurity shall trust,
And rising Ages hasten to be just.

At length our mighty Bard's victorious Lays Fill the loud Voice of universal Praise, And baffled Spite, with hopeless Anguilh dumb, Yields to Renown the Centuries to come.

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